LOL!!! ISIS Threaten US Attacks Over Jerusalem Decision

The Ugly Truth

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YNET – ISIS threatened attacks on US soil in retaliation for the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, one of the group’s social media accounts reported on Thursday without giving any details.

In a message on one of its accounts on the Telegram instant messaging service titled “Wait for us” and “ISIS in Manhattan,” the group said it would carry out operations and showed images of New York’s Times Square and what appeared to be an explosive bomb belt and detonator.

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China Calls for Independent Palestinian State Based on ’67 Borders With Capital East Jerusalem

The Ugly Truth

DONALD TRUMP

HAARETZ – China called for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, Xinhua state media reported Thursday.

“China understands the Islamic countries’ concern about the status of Jerusalem,” a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said, adding that China “calls for a resolution to the issue in accordance with the relevant UN resolutions and international consensus.”

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Abbas says no future US role in peace process, threatens to void past agreements

The Ugly Truth

PA president blasts Trump’s decision to recognize Israel’s capital; Turkey’s Erdogan calls on all Islamic states to declare East Jerusalem capital of Palestine

ed note–everyone needs to understand something very clearly about all of this.

The entire ‘peace process’ that has existed since Israel got her grubby hands on the Levant in 1947 has been the PRIMARY mechanism–outside of the obvious brutality and bloodshed which is her calling card–in grabbing/gobbling up more Palestinian land. Dangling the hopes for ‘peace’ in front of the Palestinians and the rest of the world has been the ‘bait and switch’ tactic she has used in creating ‘facts on the ground’ that she then utilizes in justifying her exerting military, political, and economic control over Palestinian land.

Trump’s Jerusalem ‘declaration’ and its immediate, predictable, and inevitable backlash has–at least in the near future–rendered Israel’s most lethal anesthesia, the prospect of a negotiated settlement using the…

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Must Watch–Truthers: When Conspiracy Meets Reality

The Ugly Truth

ed note–Now, 5 years after the fact, it is (or at least should be) apparent to all that the entire ‘Hoaxer’ phenomenon that was birthed in the immediate aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre was, is, and will remain a sophisticated intelligence operation aimed at discrediting those who ask questions about major political events and as a means of scaring away otherwise open-minded people from looking any further than whatever the ‘official narrative’ happens to be on any given event.

Notice the other items that are dragged into the ‘hoaxer’ world–9/11, Israel, Zionism, etc. With one swoop, the over-the-top insanity of what is now a very real phenomenon–‘hoaxerism’–results in all dissenting opinions or questions being relegated to kookery and quackery.

Please note how (beginning at around the 18 minute mark) it is specifically stated in this documentary how Google, Youtube, Facebook and other MAJOR sources of mass information have up…

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Coup and counter coup in Saudi Arabi with the arrest of prince Alwaleed bin Talal has Trump lost this one?

Who has won and lost in the Saudi Coup and counter coup. Bottom line folks.  Prince Alwaleed bin Talal was a fan of Trump like Putin he has called out Bitcoin as a fraud. He is under arrest and losing his business empire.  This could be bad news for the Trump POV.

Arrested Saudi prince’s business empire apparently collapsing

Arrested Saudi prince's business empire apparently collapsing
The Kingdom Holding Company, founded by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has lost nearly a fifth of its value since its billionaire owner was detained last month as part of a Saudi nationwide anti-corruption campaign.

According to Forbes, the value of the Riyadh-based conglomerate fell $8.5 billion, shrinking the tycoon’s net worth by two billion dollars to $16 billion. Prince Alwaleed reportedly owns 95 percent of Kingdom Holding.

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45th richest man among those arrested in Saudi corruption crackdown – reports https://on.rt.com/8rh9 

The company has more than $12.5 billion under management globally and “enjoys a solid financial position underpinned by a prudent and conservative funding plan,” according to the chief executive Talal Al Maiman.

However, any meaningful activity by the corporation has been halted in Alwaleed’s absence, according to unnamed Saudi bankers, as quoted by the FT. Local and international banks are so concerned over the arrest that they reportedly put on hold one billion dollars in loans to fund the acquisition of a 16 percent stake in Saudi Fransi Bank from Credit Agricole, planned by KHC.

Arrested Saudi royals must cough up 70% of their wealth in exchange for freedom – report https://on.rt.com/8sh5 

Arrested Saudi royals must cough up 70% of their wealth in exchange for freedom – report — RT…

Financial Times report Saudi officials are offering the arrested royals a deal – pay up to 70 percent of your wealth and go free.

rt.com

“One must assume that he will be deal-making for his future. But in a broader sense, he is done now,” one Saudi banker said as quoted by the media.

Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is presently the 64th richest person on the planet, is one of the most prominent of the 200 princes, ministers and businessmen detained in Riyadh’s Ritz-Carlton hotel. Most of the arrested reportedly agreed to exchange some of their assets for their freedom.

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Saudi prince freed from Ritz-Carlton ‘prison’ after $1bn settlement with authorities https://on.rt.com/8tdh 

In the crackdown, Saudi authorities are reportedly planning to secure up to $100 billion, which is equal to the kingdom’s national debt. Earlier, media reported Saudi officials offered the arrested royals a deal to pay up to 70 percent of their wealth to go free.

 (Examination of the coup itself)

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King Salman bin Abdulaziz

Addiction and intrigue: Inside the Saudi palace coup

(Reuters) – On Tuesday June 20 Mohammed bin Nayef, a powerful figure in Saudi Arabia’s security apparatus for the past two decades and the next in line to the throne, was summoned to meet King Salman bin Abdulaziz on the fourth floor of the royal palace in Mecca.

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There, according to a source close to MbN, as he is known, the king ordered him to step aside in favour of the king’s favourite son, Mohammed bin Salman. The reason: an addiction to painkilling drugs was clouding MbN’s judgment.

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“The king came to meet MbN and they were alone in the room. He told him: ‘I want you to step down, you didn’t listen to the advice to get treatment for your addiction which dangerously affects your decisions’,” said the source close to MbN.

The new details about the extraordinary meeting between the king and MbN that touched off the de facto palace coup help to explain the events that are reshaping the leadership of the world’s biggest oil exporting nation.

Reuters could not independently confirm MbN’s addiction issues.

 

A senior Saudi official said the account was totally “unfounded and untrue in addition to being nonsense”.

“The story depicted here is a complete fantasy worthy of Hollywood,” the official said in a statement to Reuters, which did not refer to MbN’s alleged use of drugs.

The official said MbN had been removed in the national interest and had not experienced any “pressure or disrespect”. Reasons for his dismissal were “confidential”.

Sources with knowledge of the situation said however that the king was determined to elevate his son to be heir to the throne and used MbN’s drug problem as a pretext to push him aside.

Three royal insiders, four Arab officials with links to the ruling house of Saud, and diplomats in the region, told Reuters that MbN was surprised to be ordered to step aside.

“It was a big shock to MbN,” said a Saudi political source close to MbN. “It was a coup. He wasn’t prepared.”

The sources said MbN did not expect to be usurped by the often impulsive Mohammed bin Salman, who MbN considered to have made a number of policy blunders, such as his handling of the Yemen conflict and cutting financial benefits to civil servants.

The high-stakes power grab has placed sweeping powers in the hands of the 32-year-old Mohammed bin Salman, also known as MbS, and appears designed to speed his accession to the throne.

Should he get the job, the young prince will preside over a kingdom facing tough times from depressed oil prices, the conflict in Yemen, rivalry with an emboldened Iran and a major diplomatic crisis in the Gulf.

The source close to MbN acknowledged that he had health issues, which were aggravated after an al Qaeda attacker tried to blow himself up in front of him in his palace in 2009. The health issues were corroborated by three other sources in Saudi Arabia and Arab official sources with links to the royal family.

An Arab source with close Saudi links also provided a similar account of the meeting at which King Salman asked MbN to step down because of his alleged drug addiction.

These sources said MbN had shrapnel in his body that could not be removed and he depended on drugs such as morphine to alleviate the pain. One source said MbN had been treated in clinics in Switzerland on three occasions in recent years. Reuters was unable to confirm this independently.

A PALACE COUP

The King moved ahead of a meeting of the Political and Security Council. The meeting was due to start at 11 pm, but a few hours before that, MbN received what he viewed as a routine phone call from Mohammed bin Salman. According to the source close to MbN, Mohammed bin Salman told MbN that the king wanted to see him.

In the hours that followed the meeting in which MbN was dismissed, the House of Saud’s Allegiance Council, comprising the ruling family’s senior members, were informed of a letter written in the name of the king.

Drafted by palace advisers to MbS, it said MbN had a medical condition – drug addiction – and “we have been trying for over two years to persuade him to seek treatment but to no avail”.

“Because of this dangerous situation we see that he should be relieved of his position and that Mohammed bin Salman be appointed in his place,” the Saudi source close to MbN quoted excerpts of the letter as saying.

The letter was read over the phone to members of the Allegiance Council, while MbN was kept isolated in a room all night, his mobile phone removed, and cut off from contact with his aides. His bodyguards from elite paramilitary interior ministry units were also replaced.

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Envoys were sent to council members to get their signatures. All but three of 34 signed. The coup had worked.

Calls by council members who backed MbN’s removal were recorded and played to him by a palace adviser to demonstrate the strength of the forces against him and to discourage any urge the 57-year-old crown prince might have to resist.

According to two Saudi sources with links to the royal house, only three members of the council opposed his overthrow: Ahmed bin Abdulaziz, a former interior minister, Abdulaziz bin Abdallah, a representative of the family of late king Abdallah, and Prince Mohammad bin Saad, a former deputy governor of Riyadh. The three could not immediately be reached for comment.

At dawn MbN gave up. He told a palace adviser that he was ready to see the king. The meeting was short. MbN agreed to step down and signed a document to that effect.

When MbN left the king’s quarters, he was surprised to see MbS waiting for him, the adviser said. MbN was embraced and kissed by MbS while television cameras rolled.

Soon afterward a pre-written statement was released announcing the king’s decision to make his son the next crown prince. This was the clip that would play on all Saudi and Gulf media over the coming hours and days.

HOUSE ARREST

MbN remains under house arrest to keep him out of circulation following his overthrow, with no visitors allowed except close family members. He is not taking calls, the source close to MbN said. In the past week he was only granted permission to visit his elderly mother with the new guards assigned to him.

The senior Saudi official said, however, that MbN had received guests, including the king and the new crown prince.

The source close to MbN said he would like to take his family to Switzerland or London but the king and MbS had decided that he must stay. “He wasn’t given any choice.”

The White House and CIA declined to comment. A senior administration official said Washington knew that MbS was the favourite of the king but “beyond that it’s very opaque”.

The elevation of MbS had been predicted by some Saudi and Western officials, but it came much sooner than expected with a rushed exit for MbN.

Since King Salman’s accession, there had been clear indications that MbS was favoured over MbN, setting the stage for the younger prince to eclipse the formal heir to the throne.

MbS was given unprecedented power by his ailing 81-year-old father, which he used to reorder the top jobs in the political, oil, security, security and intelligence sectors, often without the knowledge of MbN, according to diplomats and Saudi political and security sources.

Since Salman took the helm just over two years ago, MbS has placed his men in key positions. MbS has been interfering in MbN’s interior ministry, appointing, promoting and firing officers without informing him.

 The succession quarrel, the sources said, began in 2015 when MbN’s personal court was disbanded and merged with the court of the king, preventing MbN from bestowing independent patronage and cultivating support. This was followed by the sacking of Saad al-Jabri, MbN’s security adviser.

When Donald Trump entered the White House, MbS cultivated contacts in Washington to offset the strong support that MbN had in the U.S. security and intelligence establishment because of his successes against al Qaeda.

The source close to MbN told Reuters the putsch went ahead after MbS struck up a strong relationship with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

Image result for The source close to MbN told Reuters the putsch went ahead after MbS struck up a strong relationship with Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

A White House official declined comment when asked about Kushner’s relationship with MbS.

The official, referring to MbN’s removal as Crown Prince and MbS’ ascension to the post, said:

“The United States government also sought not to intervene or to be seen as intervening in such a sensitive internal matter. We have great respect for the King, Prince Mohammed bin Nayef and Prince Mohammed bin Salman and we consistently stressed our desire to maintain cooperation with the KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia) and its leadership. This message was communicated at all levels of government.”

With MbS’s sudden ascent, there is now speculation among diplomats and Saudi and Arab officials that King Salman is poised to abdicate in favour of his son.

Quoting a witness at the palace, one Saudi source said King Salman this month pre-recorded a statement in which he announces the transfer of the throne to his son. The announcement could be broadcast at any time, perhaps as soon as September.

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Mohammad bin Nayef as Crown Prince, was in fact a white coup

The secret is out: the ascension of Mohammad bin Salman, displacing CIA favorite Mohammad bin Nayef as Crown Prince, was in fact a white coup

 JULY 20, 2017 

What has been an open secret across the Arab world is not a secret anymore even in the US: What happened last month in the deep recesses of the House of Saud with the ascension of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, aka MBS, was in fact a white coup.

Nearly a month ago, as I’ve written elsewhere, a top Middle East source close to the House of Saud told me: “The CIA is very displeased with the firing of [former Crown Prince] Mohammad bin Nayef. Mohammad bin Salman is regarded as sponsoring terrorism. In April 2014 the entire royal families of the UAE and Saudi Arabia were to be ousted by the US over terrorism. A compromise was worked out that Nayef would take over running the kingdom to stop it.”

The source also referred to an insistent narrative then pervading selected Middle East geopolitical circles, according to which US intel, “indirectly”, had stopped another coup against the young Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim al-Thani, orchestrated by Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, with help from Blackwater/Academi’s army of mercenaries in the United Arab Emirates. Zayed, crucially, happens to be MBS’s mentor.

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But instead of a coup in Doha, what happened was actually a coup in Riyadh. According to the source, “the CIA blocked the coup in Qatar and the Saudis reacted by dumping the CIA-selected Mohammed bin Nayef, who was to be the next king. The Saudis are scared. The monarchy is in trouble, as the CIA can move the army in Saudi Arabia against the king. This was a defensive move by MBS.”

Now, almost a month later, confirmation of the white coup/regime change in Riyadh has been splashed on the front page of The New York Times, attributed mainly to the proverbial “current and former United States officials”.

That, in essence, is code for the US deep state, and confirms how the Central Intelligence Agency is extremely annoyed by the ouster of Nayef, a trusted partner and former counterterrorism czar. The CIA on the other hand simply does not trust arrogant, inexperienced and hubristic MBS.

Warrior Prince MBS has been responsible for conducting the war on Yemen – which not only killed thousands of civilians but also spawned a tragic famine/humanitarian crisis. If that was not enough, MBS was the architect of the blockade of Qatar, followed by the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt, and now totally discredited as Doha has refused to concede to outlandish “demands” in essence concocted in Riyadh and Abu Dhabi.

Nayef, crucially, was opposed to the blockade of Qatar.

It’s no wonder the House of Saud and the UAE are already backtracking on Qatar, not so much because of pressure recently applied by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the ground, but mostly because of shadow play: the US deep state making sure its interests in the Gulf – starting with the Al-Udeid base in Qatar – should not be messed with.

A reckless ‘gambler’

MBS, although treated with (velvet) kid gloves across the Beltway because of the same old “Saudi Arabia is our ally” meme, is for all practical purposes the most dangerous man in the Middle East.

That’s exactly what the famous December 2015 memo by the BND – German intelligence – was already stating: The young “gambler” was poised to cause a lot of trouble. Financial circles in the European Union are absolutely terrified that his geopolitical gambles may end up sending millions of retirement accounts into the dust.

The BND memo crucially detailed how the House of Saud, in Syria, had bankrolled the creation of the Army of Conquest – basically a revamp of Jabhat al-Nusra, aka al-Qaeda in Syria – as well as ideological sister outfit Ahrar al-Sham.

That amounted to the House of Saud aiding, abetting and weaponizing Salafi-jihadi terrorism. And this from a regime that, after seducing US President Donald Trump to star in an embarrassing sword dance, felt it was free to accuse Qatar of being a terrorist nation.

MBS’s blockade of Qatar has nothing to do with silencing al-Jazeera; it relates to the Saudi defeat in Syria, and the fact that Doha abandoned the “Assad must go” dead-ender to the benefit of allying itself with Tehran to sell liquefied natural gas to Europe out of their jointly owned North Dome/South Pars giant gas field.

MBS – as well as his ailing dad – skipped the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg; the Qatar embarrassment was too much of a burden, considering for instance Doha’s position as a powerful investor in both France and the UK. Still, all eyes are on him; MBS has promised to turbocharge the vicious Sunni/Shiite confrontation, taking the war “inside Iran”.

And further on down the road, there’s the question of how MBS is going to handle the fraught-with-risk Aramco initial public offering.

It ain’t over till the (abaya-clad) fat lady sings.

 The inside story of the Saudi night of long knives

By Pepe Escobar
Source: Asia Times

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The House of Saud’s King Salman devises a high-powered “anti-corruption” commission and appoints his son, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman, a.k.a. MBS, as chairman.

Right on cue, the commission detains 11 House of Saud princes, four current ministers and dozens of former princes/cabinet secretaries – all charged with corruption. Hefty bank accounts are frozen, private jets are grounded. The high-profile accused lot is “jailed” at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton.

War breaks out within the House of Saud, as Asia Times had anticipated back in July. Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against MBS in the making. Instead, what just happened is yet another MBS pre-emptive coup.

A top Middle East business/investment source who has been doing deals for decades with the opaque House of Saud offers much-needed perspective: “This is more serious than it appears. The arrest of the two sons of previous King Abdullah, Princes Miteb and Turki, was a fatal mistake. This now endangers the King himself. It was only the regard for the King that protected MBS. There are many left in the army against MBS and they are enraged at the arrest of their commanders.”

To say the Saudi Arabian Army is in uproar is an understatement. “He’d have to arrest the whole army before he could feel secure.”

Prince Miteb until recently was a serious contender to the Saudi throne. But the highest profile among the detainees belongs to billionaire Prince al-Waleed Bin Talal, owner of Kingdom Holdings, major shareholder in Twitter, CitiBank, Four Seasons, Lyft and, until recently, Rupert Murdoch’s Newscorp.

Al-Waleed’s arrest ties up with a key angle; total information control. There’s no freedom of information in Saudi Arabia. MBS already controls all the internal media (as well as the appointment of governorships). But then there’s Saudi media at large. MBS aims to “hold the keys to all the large media empires and relocate them to Saudi Arabia.”

So how did we get here?

The secrets behind the purge

The story starts with secret deliberations in 2014 about a possible “removal” of then King Abdullah. But “the dissolution of the royal family would lead to the breaking apart of tribal loyalties and the country splitting into three parts. It would be more difficult to secure the oil, and the broken institutions whatever they were should be maintained to avoid chaos.”

Instead, a decision was reached to get rid of Prince Bandar bin Sultan – then actively coddling Salafi-jihadis in Syria – and replace the control of the security apparatus with Mohammed bin Nayef.

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The succession of Abdullah proceeded smoothly. “Power was shared between three main clans: King Salman (and his beloved son Prince Mohammed); the son of Prince Nayef (the other Prince Mohammed), and finally the son of the dead king (Prince Miteb, commander of the National Guard). In practice, Salman let MBS run the show.

And, in practice, blunders also followed. The House of Saud lost its lethal regime-change drive in Syria and is bogged down in an unwinnable war on Yemen, which on top of it prevents MBS from exploiting the Empty Quarter – the desert straddling both nations.

The Saudi Treasury was forced to borrow on the international markets. Austerity ruled – with news of MBS buying a yacht for almost half a billion dollars while lazing about the Cote d’Azur not going down particularly well. Hardcore political repression is epitomized by the decapitation of Shi’ite leader Sheikh Al-Nimr. Not only the Shi’ites in the Eastern province are rebelling but also Sunni provinces in the west.

As the regime’s popularity radically tumbled down, MBS came up with Vision 2030. Theoretically, it was shift away from oil; selling off part of Aramco; and an attempt to bring in new industries. Cooling off dissatisfaction was covered by royal payoffs to key princes to stay loyal and retroactive payments on back wages to the unruly masses.

Yet Vision 2030 cannot possibly work when the majority of productive jobs in Saudi Arabia are held by expats. Bringing in new jobs raises the question of where are the new (skilled) workers to come from.

 

Throughout these developments, aversion to MBS never ceased to grow; “There are three major royal family groups aligning against the present rulers: the family of former King Abdullah, the family of former King Fahd, and the family of former Crown Prince Nayef.”

Nayef – who replaced Bandar – is close to Washington and extremely popular in Langley due to his counter-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and quite a few factions of the House of Saud – as it was interpreted as MBS forcing his hand in the power struggle.

According to the source, “he might have gotten away with the arrest of CIA favorite Mohammed bin Nayef if he smoothed it over but MBS has now crossed the Rubicon though he is no Caesar. The CIA regards him as totally worthless.”

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Some sort of stability could eventually be found in a return to the previous power sharing between the Sudairis (without MBS) and the Chamars (the tribe of deceased King Abdullah). After the death of King Salman, the source would see it as “MBS isolated from power, which would be entrusted to the other Prince Mohammed (the son of Nayef). And Prince Miteb would conserve his position.”

MBS acted exactly to prevent this outcome. The source, though, is adamant; “There will be regime change in the near future, and the only reason that it has not happened already is because the old King is liked among his family. It is possible that there may be a struggle emanating from the military as during the days of King Farouk, and we may have a ruler arise that is not friendly to the United States.”

‘Moderate’ Salafi-jihadis, anyone?

Before the purge, the House of Saud’s incessant spin centered on a $500 billion zone straddling Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt, on the Red Sea coast, a sort of Dubai replica to be theoretically completed by 2025, powered by wind and solar energy, and financed by its sovereign wealth fund and proceeds from the Aramco IPO.

In parallel, MBS pulled another rabbit from his hat swearing the future of Saudi Arabia is a matter of “simply reverting to what we followed – a moderate Islam open to the world and all religions.”

In a nutshell: a state that happens to be the private property of a royal family inimical to all principles of freedom of expression and religion, as well as the ideological matrix of all forms of Salafi-jihadism simply cannot metastasize into a “moderate” state just because MBS says so.

Meanwhile, a pile-up of purges, coups and countercoups shall be the norm.

 

Zero Hedge

Critics claim that this is being undertaken in order for Salman’s successor to preemptively consolidate power in staving off any unrest that might result from his possibly imminent ascent to the throne, while the government says that it was actually dismantling a foreign intelligence network linked to the Muslim Brotherhood and Houthis.

Riyadh’s assertions are a thinly veiled euphemism to suggest that Qatar and Iran are behind this shadowy regime change plot, but it’s very unlikely that either of them is involved, and Riyadh may have just said they were in order to diplomatically deflect attention from the true culprit.

Here’s why.

Iran and Qatar are close with Russia and China, and the latter two Great Powers are actually enjoying a renaissance of relations with Saudi Arabia right now.

While one might expect this to make Tehran and Doha jealous, the opposite is true – Moscow and Beijing’s developing high-level strategic partnerships with Riyadh are designed to bring balance to the Mideast by weaning the Kingdom away from Washington and slowly but surely integrating it into the emerging Multipolar World Order, which will never be perfect or without friction, but is still a step in the right direction. In order to appreciate what’s happening, one needs to be reminded of a few things that have happened this past year when it comes to Saudi Arabia’s relations with Russia and China.

Concerning Moscow, Riyadh agreed to an historic OPEC output deal with Russia last year and renewed it a few months ago after it expired.

The Saudis are also cooperating with the Russians in encouraging Syria’s so-called “opposition” to merge into a unified entity for facilitating peace talks with Damascus. Foreign Minister Lavrov was just in the Kingdom last week, and King Salman is expected to visit Moscow sometime next month.

As for China, Beijing signed a total of over $110 billion of deals with Saudi Arabia in the past six months alone in an effort to assist the Crown Prince’s ambitious Vision 2030 program of economic modernization. It’s that initiative more so than anything else which holds the danger of inadvertently destabilizing the country’s internal affairs because of the opposition that it’s come under from some of Saudi Arabia’s many radical clerics who are against the social consequences of its reforms.

Bearing all of this in mind, it’s worthwhile to revisit the question of who has an interest in destabilizing Saudi Arabia right at the moment that it’s turning away from the US and towards Russia and China, timing their subversive efforts to coincide with a prolonged leadership change and an economic transition.

By all indicators, those aren’t the hallmarks of an Iranian or Qatari operation, but the red flag for an American one.

 

Zero  Hedge

According to a new report by Middle East Eye, Prince Bandar bin Sultan – Saudi Arabia’s most famous arms dealer, longtime former ambassador to the US, and recent head of Saudi intelligence – was among those detained as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s (MBS) so-called “corruption purge” that started with the initial arrests of up to a dozen princes and other top officials last weekend.

If confirmed, the arrest and detention of Bandar would constitute the most significant and high profile figure caught up in the purge – even above that of high profile billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal – given Bandar’s closeness to multiple US administrations and involvement in events ranging from Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contra program (including direct involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing US-Saudi covert operations overseeing the arming of jihadists in Syria.


Famous photograph of George W. Bush and his close confidant Prince Bandar bin Sultan.

Middle East Eye issued the reportbased on multiple contacts “inside the royal court” and indicates further that the scale of MBS’ aggressive crackdown is much larger than previously reported, and even involves the torture of “senior figures” among those detained:

Some senior figures detained in last Saturday’s purge in Saudi Arabia were beaten and tortured so badly during their arrest or subsequent interrogations that they required hospital treatment, Middle East Eye can reveal.  People inside the royal court also told MEE that the scale of the crackdown, which has brought new arrests each day, is much bigger than Saudi authorities have admitted, with more than 500 people detained and double that number questioned.

And shockingly, those sources say that the longtime Saudi ‘deep state’ power broker and liaison with the West, Prince Bandar, is among the detained:

One of the most famous is Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington and confidant of former US President George W Bush.  There is no word on his fate, but Saudi authorities said that one of the corruption cases they are looking at is the al-Yamamah arms deal, in which Bandar was involved.

While no doubt Bandar’s very well-known role in Saudi “oil for arms” programs which have come to define Saudi relations with the West over the past decades is a trumped up and “selective” charge (insofar as the highest levels of the state have overseen such shady dealing) the al-Yamamah deal in particular – which goes back to the mid-1980’s – has been an historical embarrassment to both the UK and Saudi governments (BAE Systems was the prime British contractor involved) for the astounding level of fraudulent accounting exposed in UK courts.

Concerning Prince Bandar’s role in the al-Yamamah deal, Middle East Eye continues:

Bandar bought an entire village in the Cotswolds, a picturesque area of central England, and a 2,000-acre sporting estate with part of the proceeds from kickbacks he received in the al-Yamamah arms deal, which netted British manufacturer BAE £43bn ($56.5bn) in contracts for fighter aircraft.

 

As much as $30m (£15m) is alleged to have been paid into Bandar’s dollar account at Riggs Bank in Washington and the affair led to corruption probes in the US and UK, although the case was dropped in the UK in 2006 after an intervention by then-prime minister Tony Blair.

But more likely is that Bandar has been caught up in this week’s MBS dragnet for his closeness to Western heads of state and foreign intelligence services. With MBS’ aggressive consolidation of power which could result in ascension to the throne at any moment, and with fate of multiple princes and officials still unknown – not the least of which is now ex-PM of Lebanon Saad Hariri – a shroud of secrecy has resulted in myriad theories concerning what is really happening behind the scenes.

Likely, Bandar has been detained to ensure a communications blackout with Western intelligence and media until MBS’ plans are complete, with the added benefit of ensuring the “anti-corruption” angle to the purges for the consumption of international media.


Bandar (left) has been close to multiple US administrations
spanning decades with direct involvement in events ranging from Reagan’s Nicaraguan Contra program (including being named in the Iran-Contra scandal), to making the case for the Iraq War as a trusted friend of Bush and Cheney, to directing Obama-era covert operations to arm jihadists in Syria.

Ironically, Bandar himself once seemed to publicly boast about receiving massive kickbacks in relation to Saudi weapons dealing, which perhaps further made him an easy and high profile target in this week’s crackdown. According to a royal family profile highlighting corruption in the New York Times from early this week:

Perhaps the most famous statement on corruption in Saudi Arabia was made by Prince Bandar. In an interview with PBS in 2001, he said: “If you tell me that building this whole country, and spending $350 billion out of $400 billion, that we had misused or got corrupted with $50 billion, I’ll tell you, yes. But I’ll take that anytime.”

And the New York Times summarized the key events of the multi-billion pound weapons deal with the UK as follows:

Weapons contracts have long been a source of wealth. British media reported that Prince Bandar received well over $1 billion in secret payments from BAE Systems, the leading British military contractor, over the course of a decade. The son of founding King Abdulaziz’s personal doctor, Adnan Khashoggi, became a billionaire as an arms dealer and go-between for weapons makers and members of the royal family.

Meanwhile news of Bandar’s possible arrest and detention hasn’t spread very widely in international media reports as of this writing, but it will be interesting to see the response in the West should the news be confirmed. Will Bandar’s friends in Washington and London go to bat for him? Or will Prince Bandar quietly recede into the background of a permanent forced retirement from public life?

Most likely the latter will be the case. Regardless, for friends of the former powerful Saudi intelligence director on either side of the Atlantic and within Saudi Arabia itself, Bandar no doubt knows where all the skeletons are buried, and this alone makes him a worrisome, volatile and unpredictable figure in the midst of a transfer of power.

Saudi prince & officials killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border – state media

Saudi prince & officials killed in helicopter crash near Yemen border – state media
A Saudi Arabian prince, Mansour bin Muqrin, has been killed along with several other officials in a helicopter crash the near the country’s border with Yemen, local media reported.

A helicopter, with a group of Saudi officials on an inspection trip, crashed in the Asir Region in the country’s southwest, reports said.

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عاجل:
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وفاة الأمير منصور بن مقرن نائب عسير وعدد من المسؤولين الكبار بعد  أثناء عملهم.
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The prince was serving as deputy governor of the southern province of Asir. He was a son of Muqrin bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who briefly was Saudi Arabia’s crown prince from January to April 2015.

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Eight people were on board the helicopter, including the Undersecretary and the Secretary of the Asir Region, Al-Arabiya reported, citing sources. None are believed to have survived the crash.

The incident occurred as the officials were on their way back from an inspection trip to al-Saida al-Sawalha Center in the municipality of Mahail Asir, it added. A video, believed to be the last one of Prince Mansour alive, was released by the channel, showing him and accompanying officials boarding the helicopter.

A spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry said that the flight authorities lost contact with the helicopter near the Reda reserve, close to Abha city, where the officials carried out inspections earlier in the day, as cited

by the Saudi Press Agency.

He said that that the wreckage has been found, adding that a search and rescue operation for possible survivors is still under way. Earlier reports indicated that the bodies of the officials had been recovered.

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 Saudi billionaire Prince AlWaleed bin Talal © Hamad I Mohammed

The ruling Saud family were recently thrust into the spotlight in connection with a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption, unleashed Saturday by the new all-powerful anti-corruption committee led by Crown Prince Salman. Hours after it was established, the committee ordered the detention of 11 princes and four ministers, as well as a number of former ministers. Among those arrested are Minister of the National Guard Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and Economy Minister Adel Fakeih, both sacked by Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud the same day. Another high-profile target of the corruption purge is billionaire prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, nicknamed the “Arabian Warren Buffet” for his investment skills. According to Forbes, the prince tops the list the Middle East’s richest with a net worth of some $18.7 billion.

Asir Region is located in the southwest of the country, bordering Yemen. The area has seen a number of cross-border retaliatory attacks from Yemen in recent months, reportedly leading to casualties among Saudi troops.

Saudi Arabia has been embroiled in the Yemeni conflict since March 2015 on behalf of ousted Yemeni President Mansour Hadi and against the Shi’ite Houthi rebels.